Banned Books – Maggie Goes On A Diet & Norwegian WoodBy Cecilia On August 27, 2011 Under Parenting Controversy - Public
Kiddy dieting, lesbian sex and homosexual orgies, oh my!
What a week this has been for controversy over books deemed inappropriate for kids. Banned books stricken from children’s reading lists this week include Maggie Goes On A Diet for its eating disorder inducing possibilities, and Norwegian Wood for its promiscuity inducing possibilities.
This week a New Jersey school yanked Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood from its summer reading selections list after multiple parents complained that it was far too risqué for young teen readers because of its graphic depiction of a lesbian sex scene between a 31-year-old woman and a 13-year old girl.
Nic Sheff's New York Times bestselling memoir of addiction and recovery, Tweak (Growing up on Methamphetamines), was also scrapped from the school's reading list due to complaints from parents over its description of a drug-fueled, homosexual orgy.
While it’s understandable that literary “classics” are being abandoned in favour of newer, more cutting-edge books that better fit the contemporary reading interests of our kids, the age-appropriateness of these explicit modern tales has become a major cause for concern.
Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council told Fox News that he’s wasn’t surprised by the controversy surrounding these books, saying “Here we see the intersection of parental values being offended, the hyper-sexualisation of our youth and the homosexual agenda being pushed.”
When it comes to choosing good books for teens, where do you draw the line on what’s appropriate for them to read? Would you ban books like these from your teen’s reading list?
I’m still on the fence with this one.
Now moving on from (possibly?) inappropriate sexed-up books for teens, to the controversial dieting-related story book targeted at tweens…
Maggie Goes On A Diet, set to be published in October, shares the story of 14 year-old Maggie who struggles with obesity and being teased at school because of her weight, then manages to shed her excess pounds through diet and exercise.
It is the book’s suggestion that popularity comes with being thin, along with the potential for the book's message to trigger eating disorders in young readers that has parents and commentators livid, and calling for the book to be banned.
“Kids should be talked to and taught about making healthy choices, but DIETING? No,” she said.
Parenting blogger Mir Kamin of Woulda Coulda Shoulda had this to say about the book:
“I’m all for kids being healthy, but what’s the takeaway from this book? I’m guessing the author intends for it to be ‘getting healthier is awesome.’ But right off the bat I can see young kids instead getting, ‘Being fat is bad and totally your fault,’ ‘You’re not worthwhile until you’re thin’.”
Author, Paul Kramer defended his book for tackling the issues that many children face today, telling ABC News:
“My intentions were just to write a story to entice and to have children feel better about themselves, discover a new way of eating, learn to do exercise, try to emulate Maggie and learn from Maggie's experience. Maggie is accepting that kids can be mean and she has decided to do something about it, to take things in her own hands, try to change her own life, try to make herself healthy by exercising. She does want to look better. She does want to feel better and she does not want to be teased."
I’m siding with the author on this one in that I think the message of this book is more “thinspirational” than it is damaging. For obese children who are being teased at school by a peer group entrenched in a culture that promotes being thin and beautiful as equating with success and popularity, the damage is already done. This book provides an accurate depiction of their REALITY, and for some overweight kids, it may very well be the inspiration they need to lose weight and feel happier as a result.
Dieting down to a smaller dress size may not guarantee living happily ever after, but ask anybody who has lost a significant amount of weight – young or old – if it made them feel happier and improved their life and you’ll hear a resounding YES.
The “eat well and exercise to successfully lose weight” ideas in this book echo the kind of sensible advice recommended by health experts, so I think banning books like this with a potentially healthy message for children would be an absolute shame. Do you agree? Or do you think this book sends a dangerous message to children?
As for banning books from your child's reading list in general…
How severely do you police what your children are reading? Are school banned books unwelcome in your home as well? Would you let your young child read Maggie Goes On A Diet or your teen read Norwegian Wood? Have you let your kids read any other banned childrens books?